Impossible Foods Founder and CEO Pat Brown said a steak ‘has huge symbolic value.’

By Mike Pomranz
January 10, 2019
JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Getty Images

Impossible Foods — the people behind the heavily-hyped plant-based Impossible Burger — is more than just a catchy name. The company is seeking to do “the impossible” — namely, create plant-based meat alternatives that taste identical to actual meat. Just how close they’ve gotten so far is a matter of personal opinion — a personal opinion that may continue to change as the brand begins rolling out its newly upgraded Impossible Burger “2.0” this week. But even as the brand continues to tweak its signature burger, Impossible Foods has its eye on an even more “impossible” prize… a plant-based steak.

As hip as plant-based burgers have been in recent years, the “veggie burger” as we used to casually call it is nothing new. According to Smithsonian, the first commercially sold version launched back in 1982, and recipes for vegetable-based burgers can be traced back to the ‘60s. But plant-based steaks — ones that actually mimic meat — are far rarer. The reasons are obvious: Though a burger can be pretty much any ground-up patty placed between a bun and concealed with as many toppings as you like, a steak lays beef bare.

But in a recent talk with The Spoon, Impossible Foods Founder and CEO Pat Brown explained that the additional challenge of steak didn’t intimidate him. In fact, he seemed to revel in it. “When we started building the technology platform, we were not focused on ground beef. That was a strategic choice when we wanted to pick the product that we felt would have the maximum disruptive impact relevant to our mission. But meanwhile, the things we learned about meat flavor, a lot of them are extremely broadly applicable,” he explained. He later continued, “We’re starting to think about bringing together some of the research threads … to work on what are called ‘whole cuts’ of beef — which is like slices and steaks and stuff like that.”

He then hammers the point home. “The next categorically new product that we’ll launch is almost certainly going to be like a beef steak,” Brown said. “It has huge symbolic value… If we can make an awesomely delicious world-class steak … it will be very disruptive not just to the beef industry, but to other sectors of the meat industry.” (Watch the entire video interview here.)

Brown doesn’t lay out a timeline on when such a steak might become available, but the Impossible Burger has only been around since 2016. “Impossible Steak 1.0” might arrive sooner than we think.

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